I preached my first sermon to my home church while still a student in seminary. Everybody showed up to hear it—aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins, the Sunday school teachers and youth workers and other mentors who’d had a hand in my spiritual nurturing—all of them about ready to burst with pride at my being a preacher. They sweetly poured on praise with sugar and said my sermon was just fine, bless his heart. One old gentleman went so far as to glad-fist a hundred-dollar bill into my hand on his way out. I reread that first sermon recently, and it truly was terrible. The old gentleman gave me that hundred out of necessity. He knew there was no way I would make it as a minister.
The fact that Jesus’ first sermon worried his home congregation gave me solace. Though Jesus’ sermon excelled and astounded the crowd, they nevertheless suspiciously whispered, Where did this man get such wisdom and these deeds of power? Isn’t he that carpenter’s ...1